Distance: 300km (Cumulative: 15 917km)
Moving time: 7:00
Average speed: 43km/h
Road surface: 90% Tar
Nile River Explorers Camp - R80 p.p
More backpacker vibe, nice view and bar, uneven camping
We set an alarm for 07:00, but we were all a bit slow to Caro’s frustration and Daniel still tried to get some fishing in. We only managed to leave by 09:25. We took the B1 straight to Busia, which is tarmac all the way, but it still took more than 2 hours to cover the 112 km. On the way we crossed the equator for the 5th time this week.
We stopped at the Total to refuel and to spend all our last Kenyan shillings at the shop, this took almost 30 minutes, so we only stopped at the border at 12:38.
The border is the busiest one we’ve crossed since Katima Mulilo, but since it is a one stop border crossing it was theoretically easier and more organised. We got our Carnet stamped out en then proceeded to the combined Immigration office where we got stamped out of Kenya, so far so good, besides the irritating fixers who try hard to convince you that you need them. One guy even had an official looking Immigration/Customs Officer badge, but after Hugo made it clear that he won’t receive anything and not just because we have no money left, he also disappeared.
We showed our approval letters to the Uganda Immigration officers and then the waiting game started. Apparently their ‘system is offline’ and we would have to either go to Malaba or Kampala to get the real visa. But first we needed to wait for the officer to make some phone calls. Finally the officer said we should go to Malaba, their system is working and their expecting us. We then got our Kenya stamp cancelled out so that we can exit and enter at the same border. We would however be allowed to drive on the Uganda side (without any stamps) from Busia to Malaba on the gravel shortcut. Daniel and Sekar who got their East African Visas in Nairobi was stamped in without any problems.
We then went to Customs to get the Carnet stamped in, but everyone was on lunch so we waited another 30 minutes or more for someone to show. Daniel withdrew money from the ATM of which 72 132 UGX then had to be paid at the bank for the road tax.
Finally after one and a half hours we were in Uganda, but not yet legal. The 35km to Malaba took almost an hour and then we had to wait there for another 50 minutes, before getting the visas. At first the security officer said that if Busia is offline then Malaba will also be offline. Then we waited for an official to talk to some people before a computer station covered in a blanket was opened up. The guy confirmed that the system is online, but that the visa stickers were locked somewhere and they don’t have the key. After more waiting someone arrived with a key and the visa stickers were retrieved. In typical border fashion the long on arduous process then started to capture our details, taking our picture and figure prints, scanning our yellow fever certificates and then finally printing the information onto the sticker and putting it in our passports.
Finally after more than 3 hours of arriving at Busia we were all legally in Uganda. It started to drizzle again so we decided to head for Jinja 135km away.
We only got to the Nile River Explorers Camp at 19:00, just in time to see the mighty Victoria Nile in the last light.
We followed T4A to the campsite which lead us on a very bad back road (especially when it is wet) to the uneven campsite. The last 300m goes through a steep dip where we started to skid almost into a 3m dropoff. Open Street Maps wanted to take us to the parking spot on the other side of the grounds which is a much better road, but apparently for camping we took the right one.
We could probably have just stopped on the level parking space, but the receptionist/barman didn’t really offer it as an option even after telling him that we have a roof top tent. He just said we can drive onto the uneven grass.
We tried to park as level as we could and set up camp. Sekar made rice and vegetables with Pilau spice from Zanzibar. Caro tried to cut the Jack fruit that we bought next to the road for R11, but it was overripe so we had to let it go. Caro then cleaned the fridge which was starting to smell quite frank.
Sekar went to bed early so the rest of us went to the bar for our first taste of Ugandan beer. The Monkeys are collecting beer labels, so far we have labels from Mosi (Zambia), Safari, Serengeti, Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Tusker, White Label (Kenya), St George’s, Walia, Bedele and Dashen (Ethiopia). It looks like we could be adding four more for Uganda, the first being the Nile Special.